The News Interest Index is an ongoing project of the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press which builds on the Center's longstanding research into public attentiveness to major news stories and examines news interest as it relates to the news media's agenda.

Jun. 19, 2008

Gas Prices Dominate the Public’s Economic News Agenda

Summary of Findings The public continues to express strong interest in news about the economy. More than four-in-ten (42%) tracked economic news very closely last week, only slightly below the 45% who tracked news about the economy very closely in mid-March, which was a 15-year high. And while several specific economic and financial news stories […]

Jun. 17, 2008

More Hear Negative News About Michelle Obama than Cindy McCain

Summary of Findings. With the major party nominations now settled, the images of the candidates’ wives are coming into sharper focus. While opinions about Cindy McCain and Michelle Obama are mostly positive, Mrs. Obama has emerged as the more high profile and controversial spouse. More Americans have heard a lot about Michelle Obama than Cindy […]

Jun. 11, 2008

Most Americans See a Black Nominee as Important for Country

Summary of Findings A solid majority of Americans say it as at least somewhat important to the country that an African American has won the presidential nomination of a major political party. But there are wide political and racial divisions over the significance of Barack Obama’s history-making achievement. Overall, 36% of the public says it […]

Jun. 5, 2008

Many Say Coverage is Biased in Favor of Obama

Summary of Findings Over the course of the primary campaign season greater numbers heard about controversies associated with Barack Obama than heard about other campaign events. Nonetheless, far more Americans believe that the press coverage has favored Barack Obama than think it has favored Hillary Clinton. Nearly four-in-ten (37%) say that in covering the Democratic […]

May. 28, 2008

Greater Coverage of McCain, But Public Still Focused on Obama

Summary of Findings Despite a significant increase in news coverage of John McCain last week, Barack Obama remained by far the most visible candidate in the eyes of the public. Fully half of the public said Obama was the candidate they had heard the most about in the news recently, while only 8% said they […]

May. 22, 2008

Foreign Disasters Attract Interest Despite Modest Coverage

Summary of Findings The American public expressed strong news interest in the earthquake in China last week even as the news media remained heavily focused on the presidential campaign. In spite of modest coverage of both the earthquake in China and the cyclone that hit Burma, the public had a fairly good sense of the […]

May. 14, 2008

Public Says Press Should Not Declare Obama the Winner

Summary of Findings Barack Obama may be building an insurmountable lead in the Democratic primary race, but the public is sending a strong message to journalists and pundits: It is too early to declare, as some already have, that the race is over. Fully 72% of the public – including comparable percentages of Democrats, Republicans […]

May. 8, 2008

Wright Controversy Top Campaign Event So Far

Summary of Findings The latest round of news about Barack Obama and his former pastor Rev. Jeremiah Wright dominated campaign news coverage last week. According to the Project for Excellence in Journalism’s (PEJ) Campaign Coverage Index, 42% of all campaign coverage last week dealt with the Rev. Wright controversy. Wright’s comments are by far the […]

May. 1, 2008

Democratic Campaign Taking a Toll on Both Obama and Clinton

Summary of Findings Over the past six weeks the intense, and often negative, contest between Obama and Clinton has dominated media coverage of the campaign as well as public attention. And over this period, more Americans have consistently said their views of Obama and Clinton have become less favorable, rather than more favorable, in recent […]

Apr. 24, 2008

More Americans View Campaign As Too Negative

Summary of Findings Interest in what the public perceives as an excessively negative presidential campaign declined in the days leading up to the Pennsylvania primary. Just 29% of Americans say they paid very close attention to news about the presidential campaign last week, the lowest percentage recorded since December 2007. By comparison, 43% said they […]

Apr. 17, 2008

Less News is Good News for McCain

Summary of Findings John McCain’s campaign for president has been flying under the news media’s radar since he sewed up the Republican nomination in early March. In recent weeks, he has received less news coverage – and has been consistently less visible to the public – than either Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton. Nonetheless, far […]

Apr. 10, 2008

Campaign News Interest Dips

Summary of Findings With the presidential campaign in something of a lull, public interest in campaign news has declined. Last week, 33% of the public paid very close attention to campaign news, down from 44% in mid-February. Public interest in the campaign, which had consistently surpassed attentiveness to previous presidential contests, is now comparable to […]

Apr. 3, 2008

Clinton Controversy Heavily Covered but Obama Maintains Visibility Edge

Summary of Findings Hillary Clinton’s retraction of her claim that she came under sniper fire while visiting Bosnia in 1996 was one of the main campaign storylines last week. But the controversy over her statements did not resonate as widely as the furor over statements made by Barack Obama’s pastor earlier in March. Roughly four-in-ten […]

Mar. 27, 2008

Obama and Wright Controversy Dominate News Cycle

Summary of Findings Barack Obama’s March 18th speech on race and politics is arguably the biggest political event of the campaign so far. Fully 85% of Americans say they heard at least a little about Obama’s speech, and most (54%) say they heard a lot about it. Not surprisingly, Barack Obama has been far and […]

Mar. 20, 2008

Most Aware of Ferraro’s Comments, Wright Videos

Summary of Findings On the eve of Barack Obama’s major speech on race and politics, most Americans said they had heard at least a little about the videos showing the Rev. Jeremiah Wright making racially-charged statements to his Chicago congregation. At the time of the survey, however, there was greater public awareness of other recent […]

Mar. 13, 2008

Public Closely Tracking Details of Campaign

Summary of Findings Not only are Americans following election news in record numbers this year, they are tracking the details of the campaign — the charges, countercharges and controversial advertisements — extremely closely. Large majorities say they have heard at least something about rumors that Barack Obama is a Muslim; Hillary Clinton’s 3:00 a.m. phone […]

Mar. 6, 2008

Just 28% Say Media Going Easy on Obama

Summary of Findings As is often the case, voters say they would like to see more coverage of the candidates’ positions on the issues and less coverage of which candidate is leading in the latest polls. More than three-quarters of the public (78%) would like to see more coverage of the candidates’ positions on domestic […]

Feb. 27, 2008

NY Times’ McCain Story Draws Public Interest – And Disapproval

Summary of Findings An overwhelming majority of Americans (81%) are aware of news reports that John McCain may have had an improper relationship with a female lobbyist several years ago. About half (48%) of the public has heard a lot about this story, which first appeared in the New York Times late last week. Another […]

Feb. 21, 2008

Campaign Seen as Less Negative than 2004 Contest

Summary of Findings The public remains highly engaged in the presidential campaign, and strong majorities say the campaign is important, easy to follow, interesting and informative. The public’s only major complaint about the campaign is its length: 57% say it is too long, while 40% disagree. However, campaign fatigue has not increased in recent months. […]

Feb. 13, 2008

Obama Inspiring But Inexperienced, Clinton Prepared to Lead But “Hard To Like”

Summary of Findings Barack Obama is seen by most Democrats as inspiring and as most likely to bring about change. Hillary Clinton is widely viewed as prepared to lead the country, but also hard to like. These are some of the major themes in campaign news coverage — identified by the Project for Excellence in […]